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EMR Rollout Strategies: How to Transition the Office to EMR
Start Your Engines
Now that you’ve chosen your EMR vendor and are ready to rollout (or planning to do so), you want to think about exactly HOW you want to begin using your EMR. Will you begin using it incrementally, slowing turning on all features, or go “cold turkey” and jump right into 100% EMR use. If you’re starting a new practice or one with relatively few patients, you will likely want to jump right in and start using all the features right away. You know there will be pitfalls, but at least there will be less intertia if you get stuck doing things step by step. You don’t want to be left halfway thru a rollout with nothing to show for it.
Larger practices or groups may want to begin either using a stepwise rollout (front office first, scheduling, messages, refills) then proceeding to back office (patient vital signs, progress notes). Alternatively you may start one physician at a time, starting one or two docs at a time doing a full EMR. That way bugs can be ironed out before the entire practice gets rolling. If there are some older or less computer savvy physicians who may be retiring soon, your practice/group may choose not to include them in the transition, to save the headache of training physicians who may not benefit from the added initial learning curve that an EMR will introduce.
Be sure to have a back up plan in case the computers crash, you lose internet access, etc... You want an easy fallback plan to paper charts if this happens.
Find a Cheerleader (or two)
You want to make sure that everyone is on board with the idea of the office going to EMR. Make sure you have a few EMR “champions” who are very interested in EMR, and support it 100%. If you can find a supporter in each area of the office (reception, nursing, etc), it will help smooth the transition if you have enthusiastic folks who are ready to embrace new technology. Plan on holding daily (at first) then weekly meetings to discuss potential problems and solutions for them.
Listen, listen, listen
Be sure to be open to staff questions and concerns as you rollout. Take all concerns seriously and you’ll have a more attentive and devoted staff. If there is a particularly outspoken critic of the process, you’ll be wise to speak to them separately in advance of the transition to address any concerns they have before committing the office to an EMR.